Category Archives: Photography

Aizu Wakamatsu: The half marathon and the city (Part 2)

Aizu Wakamatsu

Dinner by the river

Dinner by the river

I, my husband and a couple of friends from Tokyo who accompanied us to the race arrived at our ryokan in the town of Higashiyama Onsen in the late afternoon before the race. The train journey from Tokyo station to Aizu Wakamatsu station consisted of a Shinkansen ride, a local train ride and about half an hour of waiting time in between. From Aizu Wakamatsu station, our inn was a short taxi ride away. The journey was pleasant as I had great company and the May countryside landscapes outside the train window were lovely. We saw not just vibrant green mountains and late spring wild cherry trees (yamazakura), but also snow-capped mountain ranges (Mt. Bandai and the Azuma Mountain Range) in the distance.   Continue reading


Diabetes Blog Week: May 17: YMMV

Back for another year, let’s show everyone what life with diabetes looks like!  With a nod to the Diabetes 365 project, let’s grab our cameras again and share some more d-related pictures.  Post as many or as few as you’d like.  Feel free to blog your thoughts on or explanations of your pictures, or leave out the written words and let the pictures speak for themselves.

Your mileage may vary

Your mileage may vary

YMMV. Your Mileage May Vary.

This is one significant lesson I’ve learned from the DOC. There is no one perfect treatment or control plan for diabetes. We are all different. We may be Type 1 or Type 2 or Type 1.5 or some other type, but even within each type, each diabetic is different. There is no one-size-fits-all plan. But it is not the similarities that make us interesting. It is the difference.

The difference should not separate us from each other. It should bring us closer because we all have something different to contribute. Our differences make us what we are.

But we should not, must not, overlook our similarities. At the end of the day, we are all diabetic, struggling with our BG control, figuring out what to eat or how much exercise we can bear, dealing with our highs and lows, and facing prejudices and assumptions for no reason other than we have diabetes.

Let us celebrate our diversities.
Let us unite in our similarities.
Whether we like it or not,
We are all part of one diabetic world.

Photographers who happen to be diabetic

I recently participated in a 24-hour photography project with fellow members of Diabetesforums.  It was organized by a wonderful photographer, davef, from Ireland. The day selected was January 5, 2014. Each participant was tasked to take at least one photograph during a one-hour slot in a 24-hour GMT or UTC day. 

The photos may be seen here. Please visit.

River scene

River scene

I’m so proud of my fellow diabetics or PWDs who took wonderful photographs. Thanks guys and gals for sharing your time and photos.

Catching Up

man-160440_640These past few weeks have been a busy time for me at work. It felt like I barely had time to even breathe. I’ve not had time to check the DOC, and missed a couple or three of DSMA’s weekly tweet chat. Thus, I’m grateful for this season’s 9-day Japanese New Year holiday period (now on day 3) to sleep and recharge. That said,  despite the busy work schedule, I had a few non-work related events to share with you. Nothing profound or deep. Just a few more info on my otherwise mundane life.

Half-Marathon in Fukushima

I signed-up for the Aizu Higashiyama Onsen half-marathon, in Aizu Wakamatsu, for May next year. Aizu Wakamatsu is a traditional samurai town in Fukushima prefecture and was the location of a recent popular historical drama on TV. Yes, it is in Fukushima. To those who are worried about radiation, the town is 100 km west of the Daiichi nuclear power plant. The radiation levels there are very low and pose no health risk. No, I will not start glowing in the dark after the race.

I’m looking forward to this half-marathon. One, training for a race is a good incentive to go out for a run in winter. The colder it gets, the more our bed and duvet tempt me to stay in. I’m now building my running base before my half-marathon training begins in February (the coldest period of Tokyo winter). Two, I am hoping that May will be a pleasant time to visit Aizu Wakamatsu, which is north of Tokyo. At least, it probably will not be too cold to be outdoors but cool enough to have a pleasant 21 km race. Three, it will be my first visit to Aizu Wakamatsu, and I’m excited to visit such a lovely town. Four, I want to support parts of Fukushima that are suffering by association because people assume that the whole of Fukushima is under a cloud of high and dangerous radioactive level. I’ve always had a distaste for guilt by association, and I refuse to let uninformed fear override logic and facts and find guilt where none exists.

New camera lens

My husband surprised me with a new camera lens for Christmas. I’m still getting used to it, as I’m still getting used to my camera. I know, I know, I’ve had the camera for a few months now, but I still haven’t mastered its features (well, no rush). I’m excited to explore my camera with my new lens, though. I plan to use it for a photo project I’ve signed up for with fellow diabetic members of an online diabetes board (more info on this sometime next week).

I took the photo below on Christmas Day with my Christmas present. What do you think?

Christmas tree 2013

Christmas tree 2013


Did I just put in “work”? I did, didn’t I? Well, I left work at the office and it will stay that way. So, no talk of work today.


I’ve been using the Endomondo app for a couple of years now to record my running, walking and other activities, but I’m not very happy with it so I am in search of a new running app. I’m now testing Runmeter. I’ve just started using it so I do not know yet if it is the replacement app that I’m looking for. Any opinion, advice or thoughts on Runmeter would be most welcome, and of course please feel free to suggest other running apps.


I recently bought a Fitbit. I thought that it would be a fun way to track my daily steps. I had a pedometer before, but I had to record my steps by hand and I always forgot to do it. With Fitbit though my iPhone or my computer records my steps for me.

Anyway, do you know how difficult it is to walk 10,000 steps a day? I found that it’s not that easy to rack up 10,000 steps daily, even for someone who lives in a city such as Tokyo where everyone generally walks everywhere. The busier I am at work, the more bound I am to my desk, the fewer steps I take in a day. Although I do yoga or other exercises on non-running days, I still prefer to walk as closely as I could to 10,000 steps a day as possible.


Speaking of 10,00 steps, have you ever wondered who came up with the number? Is it arbitrary or does it have a scientific basis? From what I can find on the internet, it seems that the goal of walking 10,000 steps a day is a promotional ploy by Japanese companies to sell pedometers. Apparently, there is no research to support this number. Yet, it has caught on. In any case, as far as I’m concerned, it seems to be a good round number to aim for each day. Even if we don’t reach that number on a daily basis, it is the effort that counts.


I also managed to arrange our first ski trip this winter season. Hokkaido! I’m a bit nervous because I broke my leg last March skiing, but Hokkaido should be the perfect place for me to get back on to my skis. I’m so looking forward to it! Snow, here I come.

On a sad note, this morning I heard of the ski accident of Michael Schumacher over the radio. I’d like to take this opportunity to send our prayers to Mr. Schumacher and his family for his full recovery.

Feet up

Right now, it’s time for me to put my feet up, with a glass of wine on my hand and  a good film (The Conjuring I hope qualifies as one) to relax.

Today’s walk

It was past noon when I went out for my planned walk-run. At the last minute I decided to just walk around my neighborhood with my camera. Like many neighborhoods in Japan, my area is full of short winding roads that usually lead to a dead end, or somewhere you would never expect to appear. Hence, walking and driving here are usually an adventure. I just make sure I don’t give in to the temptation to wander at night, since I am never sure where I am going to arrive.

This afternoon I discovered a small cemetery that I have not noticed before. It was tucked behind a small shrine. My neighborhood has a number of shrines and cemeteries. I’ve walked past this shrine several times, when I take the longer route to the train station. It’s lodged among apartments and houses and is easy to miss. I decide to go in. The ground was really, really small. It’s like someone’s garden. If I wasn’t looking around for a photo subject, I would have missed the narrow pathway which lead to the tiny cemetery.

The cemetery was probably no more than one and a half the size of our apartment. There was no one else there. That gave me the chance to look more closely at the graves and take some photos.


Some graves have offerings. Most of the graves have cups, some turned up, some turned down. I wonder if this reflects a practice of offering sake to the dead. I realize I don’t know much about this aspect of Japanese culture (note to self to find out more).

Speaking of sake, I spotted a grave with a full bottle of sake in a plastic bag. I was tempted to take it home with me, but I will not dare rob a grave. And who knows? Someone could be  watching me.

Sake in a cemetery

At another grave, I spotted an empty can of beer.

Who drank the beer?

I know it’s silly, but it’s tempting to ask – who drank the beer?